Friday, April 13, 2012

The parable of the grape vine.

In the same way art helps one see into the mind of the artist, so goes nature. The more I work in the garden, the more I understand The Gardener. We have several fruit and nut plants in our yard; there are two apple trees, one fig tree, two pecan trees, a blueberry bush, and two massive grape vines. Scuppernong. This is a little parable about that particular plant. With a little bit of literal application as well.

For years we have let the grape vines grow and grow on our trellis and we've seen some fruit here and there but it has been mostly small and hidden under the mess of unproductive and dead growth. One year we cut it back hard. It wept, literally, and we thought it might not survive. But to our joy it did! And had an amazing amount of new growth! But sadly, there was absolutely no fruit at all. The next year, though, there was fruit, and it was by far the biggest and best tasting we'd ever had! Happily enjoying the results of our efforts I took it upon myself to give another pruning because its recommended to do so yearly, in winter. However the task was daunting! There were vines everywhere! And they were all locked it to what looks like a giant bird's nest. So instead I took the lazy man's approach and trimmed up the edges off the ground so it would look nicer. Much to my dismay this did nothing but make the vines shorter until the new growth took over. The fruit was easier to reach but there was not more of it and it was not bigger. In fact, I believe this is when we started seeing ripe grapes disappear, most likey devoured by hungry birds.

Last year I decided to try something new. So I trained one vine on a pole and trimmed it's branches as per typical instructions for this growing style. Wow I had clusters of grapes for the first time ever! But much to our dismay, they were exposed and got eaten by something other than one of us (or else someone needs to fess up!). Today there was new growth and teeny tiny new grapes and I decided to prune even though it was risky. These branches with little grapes were more abundant with fruit and with greater foliage the further away from the vine they got. These would-be grapes don't always mature and rob the rest of the branch of nutrients. Off they came and into the fire pile. So although I lost a lot of possible fruit in the process, the vine will concentrate it's efforts on the branches that are closer to the vine. And will hopefully bring out more new growth on the vine, and ultimately, better quality fruit.

This is my life. Pruned and tended by The Gardner to encourage growth and bigger and better fruit. Right now I'm growing new branches and sealing the wounds of the winter's pruning.

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